Poor judgment

{mosimage}For more than 40 years Canadians have been fortunate to have the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace rolling up its sleeves on their behalf to deliver aid to some of the poorest regions on Earth. But somewhere along the way D&P seems to have lost its way.

How else to explain a bizarre D&P document recently leaked to the public that is rife with misrepresentation and distortion as it disparages the respected Catholic pro-life organization Campaign Life Coalition? How else to explain the hypocrisy of D&P itself resorting to an ugly smear campaign when just a year ago the overseas development agency was crying foul over alleged assaults on its integrity that, they cried, were fuelled by slander and unfounded accusations?

Who's responsible for web's unregulated side?

A recent verdict in Italy against executives of Google raises concerns for online media operations around the world. A Milan court convicted three Google Inc. executives Feb. 24 for violating the privacy of an Italian boy with Down’s Syndrome by letting a video of him being bullied be posted on the site in 2006.

Google will appeal the six-month suspended jail terms and said the verdict “poses a crucial question for the freedom on which the Internet is built,” since none of the three employees found guilty had anything to do with the offending video.

Pope unfairly tarnished

{mosimage}Thousands of words have been written and spoken in recent days about Pope Benedict XVI and the latest child-abuse scandal sweeping Europe. Much of it originates from a secular media that, in the Internet age, too often seems driven by a nudge-nudge, wink-wink modus operandi. The challenge, then, is to separate fact from fiction.

To his credit, the Pope has never tried to hide from the modern tragedy of the church: the sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests. On the contrary, prior to recent events he has earned praise even from church critics for his up-front handling of an ever-widening tragedy that continues to plague Europe and North America.

Quebec Court decision another step back

A recent decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal that placed the state’s interest ahead of parental rights should be on the radar of everyone interested in preserving Catholic education.

The case involved Catholic parents from Drummondville who sought a court order to exempt their two sons from attending a classroom program called Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC). ERC was launched in 2008 and is compulsory in Quebec from Grades 1 to 11 in both private and public schools, including Catholic schools. The program was created to help foster harmony between cultures and religions and, to that end ERC examines multiple world religions, moral codes and belief systems and treats each with equal weight and merit.

In Christ we can overcome the world

In the developed industrial societies of the West, superficiality is among the great scourges of the age. Our prosperity and freedom, and the best values we have inherited from the past, are blighted by a mass culture that trivializes everything, from politics and entertainment to sexuality and social morality.

Movies, TV and advertising constantly reinforce the notions, for example, that sexual licence is just a normal part of growing up, that living together outside the exclusive terms of marriage is even desirable in the circumstances of our era. The bombardment of highly eroticized entertainment hollows out the personal depth and resonance that can come with sexual commitment.

An innovative idea for old church buildings

{mosimage}Faith can move mountains but can it move a church? An American pastor believes so.

Fr. David Dye is overseeing an ambitious and novel project to save an historic church in downtown Buffalo by dismantling it stone by stone and reassembling it in an Atlanta suburb 1,500 kilometres away. The process is being called “preservation through relocation” and, if successful, presents intriguing possibilities for Canadian dioceses facing tough choices about the future of old, underused, sometimes historic, city churches.

Br. André's example for us all

{mosimage}He was a small man, poor, sickly, uneducated and with no discernible skills or talents. He had little more than the clothes on his back and his faith when he showed up at the door of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Montreal some 140 years ago. At first, he was turned away, but later told to come inside.

That simple act of welcome set in motion an unlikely life of healing and service that culminated in the Feb. 19 announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that Blessed Brother André (born Alfred Bessette) will be canonized Oct. 17 in Rome. He follows St. Marguerite d’Youville as just the second Canadian-born saint.

A time to give

{mosimage}In Charity in Truth Pope Benedict XVI described charity as “love received and given,” and as the 2010 ShareLife appeal is launched the pontiff’s words are being put to action.

In the archdiocese of Toronto a parishioner who has donated anonymously in the past stepped forward on the eve of this campaign with a pledge to match up to $500,000 in new money collected by ShareLife. Not only will every dollar from first-time donors be matched, but every dollar above last year’s contribution by previous donors will also be doubled by this nameless benefactor.

Free speech, respect for others must be encouraged

If there is one subject that provokes more complaints of media bias than religion, it would probably be abortion. From the time of the legalization debates in the 1960s, most pro-life groups have believed their message has been suppressed or misrepresented, and I would not be surprised if some pro-choice groups have felt the same way.

But one thing about the debate that has changed is the addition of a free-speech component to the moral and religious issues.

Avatar's sappy, 'dumbed down' spirituality

Hardly a week into its inaugural run, Hollywood’s big Christmas release, Avatar, evolved from just another holiday blockbuster into a full-scale cultural phenomenon. It skipped past $1 billion in box office receipts faster than any film in history and by the end of January it had become the first movie ever to gross more than $2 billion.

Millions have seen Avatar, critics have heaped praise on it and it’s currently up for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director (James Cameron.)

Ignatieff's sad argument

{mosimage}In previous editions, The Catholic Register has called abortion-on-demand Canada’s greatest collective sin and our government’s inaction on the issue our greatest national shame. Now opposition leader Michael Ignatieff is calling on the government to export our abortion culture overseas as part of an otherwise worthy government initiative to provide basic health care for sick and dying women and children.

Bishop Fred Henry and Archbishop Thomas Collins got it right when, respectively, they called Ignatieff’s comments “pathetic” and “astonishing.”